MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health
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Dr Pat Tookey sits on the Steering Group for Positively UK’s From Pregnancy to Baby
and Beyond project, which trains women living with HIV as mentor
mothers to provide peer support for pregnant women newly diagnosed with HIV,
or planning pregnancy.
Published: Dec 9, 2013 1:52:38 PM
Published: Nov 29, 2013 11:51:38 AM
The study, published 30 September, was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and is part of the Child Health Reviews - UK (CHR-UK) project led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and based at our Centre.
Key findings are:
Published: Oct 3, 2013 4:41:09 PM
Two papers from the Centre’s HIV group have been selected for inclusion in the August issue of HIV , which highlights important new findings in HIV science. More...
Published: Sep 9, 2013 3:45:53 PM
Half of all UK seven year-olds are sedentary for between six and seven waking hours per day and half are not doing the recommended daily minimum of one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity, according to the latest findings from the Millennium Cohort Study.
The research, led by academics at UCL and published in the journal BMJ Open, shows that girls, children of Indian ethnic origin and those living in Northern Ireland are least active.
The authors base their findings on a representative population sample of almost 7,000 UK primary school children who are all part of the Millennium Cohort Study.
The duration and intensity of children's daily physical activity levels were captured for a full week between May 2008 and August 2009, using a device called an accelerometer, worn on an elasticated belt. The children only took this off when they bathed or went to bed.
UK guidelines on physical activity levels across the life course were revised in 2011. These recommend that children engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least one hour every day, and that they spend less time sitting down, although no maximum duration has been specified for this.
The analysis showed that on average, across the entire sample, children achieved 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, and that they took an average of 10,299 steps.
But the accelerometer readings also showed that half the children were sedentary for six hours or more every day and that half of them didn't achieve the daily recommended minimum level of exercise.
Girls fared worse than boys in terms of of total physical activity, moderate to vigorous physical activity and in the number of steps they took each day. They were also more sedentary and less likely to meet the minimum daily exercise recommendations than the boys. Just 38% of girls achieved this, compared with almost two thirds of boys (63%).
"We don't have any biological explanation for the different levels of activity in boys and girls," says Carol Dezateux, Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology at the UCL Institute of Child Health and senior author on the study. "At this age, there aren't significant differences in how children are put together physically, so we have to look at opportunity and social expectation.
"What we need to see is a positive attitude to offering choice, diversity of opportunity, a wide range of activities and inclusiveness for all children - especially girls."
Children of Indian ethnic origin spent least time engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise and took fewest steps each day, while only one in three (33%) of children of Bangladeshi origin met the recommendations.
Among the four UK countries, children in Northern Ireland were least active with just 43% managing 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, while children in Scotland (52.5%) were most likely to achieve the minimum daily recommended duration of more intense activity.
Around 52% of English children managed 60 minutes each day but there were some regional differences, with children living in the North West (58%) most likely and those in the Midlands (46%) the least likely to meet the guidelines.
In an accompanying podcast, senior author Professor Carol Dezateux describes the gender differences in exercise levels as "striking" and calls for policies to promote more exercise in girls including ballgames, playground games and dancing.
The authors refer back to the promise of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which was to inspire a generation to take part in sport.
"The results of our study provide a useful baseline and strongly suggest that contemporary UK children are insufficiently active, implying that effort is needed to boost (physical activity) among young people to the level appropriate for good health," they write.
This is likely to require population wide interventions, they say, including policies to make it easier for children to walk to school, in a bid to increase physical activity and curb the amount of time they are sedentary. More...
Published: Aug 23, 2013 3:36:42 PM
What determines how active or sedentary children are?
Physical activity and inactivity in childhood may set the pattern of activity in adult life and have health consequences. It can be a challenging thing to measure in young children and methods based on self-reported or proxy-reported activity may not be reliable. Objective measures using accelerometers can provide rich information about duration, intensity and patterns of physical activity.
This Wellcome Trust- funded study has measured physical activity in 7,000 eight-year-olds participating in the Millennium Cohort Study. This will be used to understand the social, environmental, familiy and child factors that influence activity and inactivity.
Principal investigator: Carol Dezateux
Determinants of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the UK Millennium Cohort Study
- Data collection
- Children’s Accelerometry research Group (CHARGe)
This project is led by Professor Carol Dezateux at the MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health, UCL Institute of Child Health, in collaboration with the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Cambridge and the Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
It is funded by the Wellcome Trust until 31 May 2013.
The project is investigating community and individual level determinants of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in primary school aged children including:
- socio-economic status,
- ethnicity and cultural measures,
- environmental exposures and behaviours,
- parental characteristics and health-related behaviours and
- individual level physical and psychological factors.
It is the first UK-wide longitudinal study of primary school aged children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour using accelerometers.
The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) is a UK-wide prospective study of approximately 19,000 British children born at the start of the new century. All families who were eligible for Child Benefit and resident in the UK when their children were aged nine months were asked to participate.
A stratified clustered sampling design was employed to ensure an adequate representation of all four UK countries, disadvantaged areas, and ethnic minority groups. The original cohort comprised 18,819 children whose parents were first interviewed at home when their child was aged nine months.
Three further home interviews have been carried out to date at ages three, five and seven years and a further interview will take place in 2012 when children age aged 11 and starting secondary school.
On each occasion, detailed information was obtained on demographic, social, and health factors relating to the children, and the children’s siblings and parents through interviews of the main respondents and their partners in the home.
At aged seven years, accelerometers were introduced into the study to measure the levels, duration and patterns of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the MCS cohort children.
All children participating in the age seven home interview (n=13,839) were invited to wear an Actigraph GT1M accelerometer during waking hours for seven consecutive days (including two weekend days). Accelerometers were programmed to measure data using a short sampling period (15 second epochs), and were set to record both counts and steps. Accelerometer data were collected between May 2008 and August 2009 and comprised 12,768 consenting (90.9%) children.
The MCS4 accelerometer study also included a sub-study that investigated seasonal variation in levels and patterns of children’s PA and SB.
A separate study has also been undertaken to calibrate the accelerometer, using energy expenditure as the criterion measure, to define thresholds for sedentary behaviour and physical activity categories suitable for use in young children.
The accelerometer data have been cleaned, processed and linked to the main MCS datasets. Analyses have been undertaken to address the main epidemiological hypotheses of the project, alongside work examining key methodological and statistical considerations when working with accelerometry data.
The findings from this study were published in BMJ Open in August 2013 and can be found here. The key findings were:
▪ Fifty-one per cent of 7-year-old UK children achieve current recommendations for daily PA; this is significantly lower in girls (38%) than in boys (63%). This is also lowest in children living in Northern Ireland.
▪ Half of all UK 7-year-olds are sedentary for 6.4 hours or more each day.
▪ Social and demographic variations in physical (in) activity levels are otherwise smaller.
▪ A comprehensive policy response is needed to boost PA and decrease sedentary time among all young children to the levels appropriate for good health.
Ethics Approval: Northern and Yorkshire REC 07/MRE03/32
Professor Carol Dezateux, principal investigator
Dr Lucy Griffiths, co-Investigator
MRC CECH, Institute of Child Health, University College London
Carol Dezateux, Lucy Griffiths, Catherine Law, Tim Cole, Marco Geraci, Francesco Sera, Mario Cortina Borja, Theodora Pouliou
University of Bristol
University of Birmingham
Institute of Education, University of London
Heather Joshi, Lisa Calderwood, Jon Johnson
University of Exeter
Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research unit, Cambridge
BMJ Open also recorded a podcast about this study with Professor Carol Dezateux.
- Actigraph accelerometer-defined boundaries for sedentary behaviour and physical activity intensities in 7 yr old children. PLoS One, 2011
- Feasibility of using postal methods to obtain accelerometer based assessments of children’s physical activity in large scale epidemiological studies. Rich C.S., Griffiths L.J, Ahn J.V., Kinnafick F.E., Pulsford R.M., and Dezateux C. 7th International Conference on Diet and Activity Methods (ICDAM), June 5-7, 2009, in Washington DC. Poster presentation.
- Modelling accelerometer data from 7 year old British children using functional analysis of variance. Sera F., Cortina-Borja M., Geraci M., Griffiths L., Rich C.S., and Dezateux, C. ISI-satellite meeting: Dynamic Statistical Models; August 17-19 2011; Copenhagen, Denmark. Oral presentation.
- Modelling accelerometer data from 7 year old British children using functional analysis of variance. Society for Social Medicine 55th Annual Scientific Meeting. Sera F., Cortina-Borja M., Geraci M., Griffiths L., Rich C.S., and Dezateux, C.University of Warwick, 14-16 September 2011. Oral presentation and published abstract: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2011
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